By Brieanah Schwartz, AWHC Policy Counsel
(December 30, 2019) After a horse is adopted from the BLM, the agency is supposed to conduct compliance checks while the horse is still titled to the agency. During the October 10, 2019, Resource Advisory Council meeting in Oregon, Wild Horse and Burro specialist Rob Sharp mentioned during his presentation that the Burns Corrals had completed 195 compliance checks on adopters in Washington and Oregon. As follow up to this statement, AWHC submitted a FOIA request to obtain records related to those compliance checks.
On December 5th, AWHC received a response. A review of the compliance check forms found that while the majority were standard and noted no violations, there were notes of a few horses found in less than ideal conditions.
One individual was keeping two horses with low body scores, meaning that they are thin. The inspector also noted that their feet were in need of a trim.
Another individual’s horses were thin as well. Especially concerning about this case was that in the compliance check documents, it is noted they removed two horses from the property ahead of the inspection, knowing the BLM was coming to check. Ultimately, the inspector recommended that this individual no longer be allowed to adopt or participate in the TIP program. As follow up the BLM sent a letter to the adopter stating the violations.
Towards the end of the responsive documents, there are other letters that the BLM sent to individuals stating violations to the adoption agreements. One letter states that the person improperly transferred title on the horse before title was transferred to them by the BLM. The other letter states that the person improperly abandoned the horse before the title was properly transferred to them.
While we find some assurance in BLM’s follow-up checks and consequential citation of violations, we find it unacceptable for mustangs to be placed with unsuitable adopters in the first place. This small collection of data is a prime example to show why adoption (plus an adoption incentive) is neither a feasible nor completely humane solution to wild horse and burro population management.
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